S3 E2: AMANDA JOHNSTONE-BATT – THEME RIDE CREATOR
It’s called a dark ride, the ones where you get strapped into a vehicle and then journey through a world full of lights, animation, storytelling, and amazement. People wait in line for hours for these experience. Amanda Johnstone-Batt creates them. Not by herself, but with teams of designers, visual effects artists, animators, art directors, engineers…storymakers.
Amanda said it takes about six years to create these rides. At first, that was shocking, but when you consider the families that spend months (or more) planning trips to experience the attractions Amanda’s team makes, it becomes easier to understand. At Framestore in London, where Amanda works, the team can take on all aspects of the ride creation. She’s the one who keeps all of the trains running on time, like a “traffic cop,” in her words.
With this in mind, Amanda introduced us to all kinds of unexpected aspects of the process. First and foremost, the initial brainstorming process…thinking about the possible directions of a ride. What about pitching the ideas to the client? She covered that. Another one: understand physics—which was a little outside of the creative wheelhouse we usually think about.
So, do you want to create a ride...an experience...a world? Here are Three Big How’s from a woman who has been part of creating some of the greatest adventures in the world today:
THREE BIG HOW’S
BUILD YOUR SKILLS
Download the Adobe Creative Apps and get started. That easy? Not really, but there are tutorials in the apps, online, and in workshops all over the place. To be able to understand and participate in the design of a ride or an attraction, you will definitely need to build your basic skills in video, design, photography, and web.
SEE HOW MOVIES ARE MADE
This one is easy: go to YouTube and find breakdowns of how some of your favorite movies are made. The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, etc. You’ll see a lot of green screens, animations, 3D renderings, and modeling. You’ll see the meticulous and impressive effort it takes to make an image feel real even. You’ll see the vast array of roles people can play in creating things that thrill others.
KNOW YOUR SCIENCES
Amanda brought a somewhat unexpected point: you have to know the laws of gravity to break them. And that’s just one set of laws. Creating these rides ultimately hinges on engineering things that seem impossible, so you have to have an understanding of physics, math, and geometry. Of course, not everyone on the team needs to be an expert, but a baseline knowledge helps.
Amanda gave us a glimpse into an amazing world, where the possibilities are actually endless and the resulting work can be breathtaking, frightening, exhilarating, and beautiful. To create a ride that someone will remember forever is a dream project for any creative.